Posts Tagged ‘iron’

Anemia and pregnancy

Monday, September 25th, 2017

Anemia occurs when your blood doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to the rest of your body. Without the right amount of oxygen, your body can’t work as well as it should, and you feel tired and run down. Your body needs iron to make red blood cells. During pregnancy, you must produce about 50% more blood to meet the oxygen needs of your growing baby. If you do not get enough iron during pregnancy, you can become anemic (have anemia). If you have anemia during pregnancy, it can deprive both you and your baby of oxygen.

Iron deficiency during pregnancy has been linked to an increased risk of premature birth and low birthweight.

Getting the right amount of iron

Before getting pregnant, women should get about 18 milligrams (mg) of iron per day. During pregnancy, the amount of iron you need jumps to 27 mg per day. Most pregnant women get the right amount of iron by taking prenatal vitamins and eating foods that contain iron.

You can help to lower your risk of anemia by eating iron-rich foods throughout your pregnancy. Foods high in iron include:

  • Poultry
  • Dried fruits and beans
  • Eggs
  • Iron-fortified cereals, breads and pastas
  • Organ meats (liver, giblets)
  • Red meat
  • Seafood (clams, oysters, sardines)
  • Spinach and other dark leafy greens

Foods containing vitamin C can increase the amount of iron your body absorbs. So it’s a good idea to eat foods like orange juice, tomatoes, strawberries and grapefruit every day.

Calcium (in dairy products like milk) and coffee, tea, egg yolks, fiber and soybeans can block your body from absorbing iron. Try to avoid these when eating iron-rich foods.

Signs of anemia

Anemia develops over time. As it progresses, you may have these signs and symptoms:

  • Fatigue (very common)
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Pale skin
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Chest pain

Your health care provider uses a simple blood test to check for anemia several times during pregnancy. Make sure you let your provider know if you have any of the signs or symptoms. If you are anemic, your provider may prescribe an iron supplement.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

An unpleasant part of pregnancy

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

woman-walking1Pregnancy is usually a wonderful time in a woman’s life. But, unfortunately, there are certain changes that many women experience that are bothersome or even painful. Constipation is a fairly common complaint during pregnancy. Constipation is when you have difficulty having a bowel movement, or do not have one for several days. It can be due to your diet, changing hormones, too much iron in a vitamin pill, or from the pressure of your baby. Whatever the cause, it is not fun.

Here are some tips that may help with constipation:

• Drink more water.
• Avoid caffeine.
• Choose plenty of fiber-rich foods, including fruits, raw veggies, beans and whole grains.
• Juices, such as prune juice, can help, too.
• Move more and sit less. Regular activity, such as walking, can help a lot.
• Ask your prenatal health care provider if you can switch to a different prenatal vitamin (perhaps one with low or no iron).

Pregnant women who suffer from constipation often have hemorrhoids, too. These are painful and itchy enlarged veins in the rectal area. Constipation can make these swollen, itchy veins worse. Talk to your doctor about using creams and suppositories to provide relief. But, do not take laxatives or mineral oil unless our doctor prescribes them. The tips to relieve constipation (above) will also help with hemorhoids. You can read more about this uncomfortable aspect of pregnancy on our website.

To learn more about healthy eating during pregnancy,visit our website.

Hopefully, with a little more attention to your diet and lifestyle, you will feel much better.

ABC’s of a healthy pregnancy, H-Q

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

Continuing our post on the ABC’s of a healthy pregnancy A-G (July 10), here are guidelines H-Q to help increase your chances of having a healthy baby.

H:  History can teach us a lot! Understanding your family history can make an important difference in your life and the lives of your children.

I:  Iron is a mineral that helps create red blood cells, which are needed to carry oxygen to your baby. Be sure to get enough iron in your diet to prevent getting anemia.

J:  Join a childbirth education class to help you understand what to expect during labor and birth.

K:  Keep you and your baby safe during a disaster by planning ahead of time. Prepare for a disaster by making a list of medications you’re taking and having a handy contact sheet with your health provider’s information.

L:  Lots of back pain? Backache is one of the most common problems for pregnant women. Avoid heavy lifting and standing for long periods of time. Wear comfortable shoes and consider a pregnancy massage to ease some of your pain.

M:  Medical conditions, such as gestational diabetes and high blood pressure, should be carefully monitored by you and your health provider. Also, talk to your provider about any medications that may need to be adjusted during pregnancy.

N:  Nausea is very common during pregnancy and certain foods can trigger the feeling. Try substituting other nutritious options for the foods that make you feel ill. Eat 5-6 small meals a day, rather than three large ones.

O:  Oh, baby! Get ready to care for your baby before you bring her home from the hospital. Choose a health provider for her and make sure your home environment is all set and safe for your new baby.

P:  Prenatal care is essential for having a healthy baby, so be sure to make all of your visits. During these appointments, prenatal tests will be given to help your provider know how you and your baby are doing.

Q:  Quit bad habits such as smoking and drinking. Smoking can cause your baby to grow more slowly and gain less weight in the womb. Drinking alcohol while pregnant can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome, which can cause your baby to be born with both physical and mental birth defects.

Visit us next Thursday for the final part of our series, the ABC’s of a healthy pregnancy R-Z.